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Beer goggles: fact or fiction?

Psychologists at the University of Bristol confirm Beer Goggle Effect

Anyone who has ever been part of the bar and party scene has heard the term “beer goggles”, right?

The term applies to the magical ability that alcohol has to change your perspective of an average (or ugly) person into a beautiful “take me home” type of person. Many a joke has been made on this topic, hopefully not directed at you.

Until this study, published in the Journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism in 2008, there was no hard scientific evidence that “beer goggles” even existed – aside from assertions by a bunch of drunks that is.

Let’s face it; people would rather insist their lapse in judgment came from beer goggles instead of desperation, right? Well, Psychologists at the University of Bristol wanted to confirm the actual Beer Goggle Effect via an actual study, and so undertook to investigate the “Effects of Acute Alcohol Consumption on Ratings of Attractiveness of Facial Stimuli: Evidence of Long-Term Encoding.”

In other words, they took 84 heterosexual male and female college students, separated them into two groups, and fed one of the groups about 3.5 drinks worth of a lime-flavored vodka. The other batch got a lime-flavored placebo. After suitable intervals, both groups were shown 20 photos of male faces and 20 photos of female faces and then asked to rate the attractiveness of each person. They were also asked to rate the same photos 24 hours later.

The conclusion:

Alcohol consumption increases ratings of attractiveness of facial stimuli, and this effect is not selective for opposite-sex faces. In addition, the effects of alcohol consumption on ratings of attractiveness persist for up to 24 hours after consumption, but only in male participants when rating female (i.e. opposite-sex) faces.

Huh. So in other words, people find EVERYONE more attractive after consuming alcohol. Perhaps most surprising is that very low amounts of alcohol are required before the “Beer Goggle Effect” kicks in. Just one drink can start to affect how you perceive other people look. And the effects last a lot longer than one would think, long enough to preserve the ego of the guy who wakes up with someone he wouldn’t normally consider a “hottie.”

The lesson:

Be careful when you drink and the choices you make while under the influence. Your reputation will thank you. 

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